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Blue Origin and four other companies win millions to keep lunar lander dreams alive

14 Sep 2021, 23:37 UTC
Blue Origin and four other companies win millions to keep lunar lander dreams alive
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An artist’s conception shows an astronaut stepping onto the lunar surface. (NASA Illustration)
Months after losing out to SpaceX, Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin space venture and two of its partners in a lunar lander project will be getting fresh infusions of financial support from NASA, thanks to a follow-up program aimed at boosting capabilities for putting astronauts on the moon.
Blue Origin, Lockheed Martin and Northrop Grumman aren’t the only companies sharing a total of $146 million in fixed-price awards. SpaceX and Dynetics — the two rivals of the Blue Origin-led “National Team” in NASA’s previous lunar lander solicitation — will get pieces of the pie as well.
The follow-up program, NextSTEP Appendix N, seeks expertise to help NASA shape the strategy and requirements for a future solicitation that’ll be focused on establishing regular crewed transportation from lunar orbit to the moon’s surface.
That’s different from the competitive process that resulted in SpaceX winning a $2.9 billion contract from NASA in April to adapt its Starship super-rocket as a lunar landing system. That development program, NextSTEP Appendix H, covers only the first crewed landing of NASA’s Artemis moon program, which is tentatively set for 2024. Appendix N would set the ...

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